Eagles have plenty of choices if they want to sign a safety in free agency

San Francisco's Dashon Goldson is an all-pro. He's physical, but he also has flaws. PAUL SAKUMA / Associated Press
San Francisco's Dashon Goldson is an all-pro. He's physical, but he also has flaws. PAUL SAKUMA / Associated Press
Posted: March 08, 2013

The stars have aligned.

The Eagles need starting safeties - again. More than a handful of proven starters are waiting to be snatched up in free agency. And the Eagles have more than enough salary-cap space to sign one of the top talents.

Does that mean the Eagles will chase Dashon Goldson, William Moore, or Glover Quin? Not necessarily.

They do have a number of holes to fill. General manager Howie Roseman and coach Chip Kelly recently reiterated their belief that splurging in free agency is not the way to build a championship-caliber squad. And the draft is said to be rich in safeties, especially in the second and third rounds.

But when free agency kicks off Tuesday at 4 p.m., it wouldn't be a surprise if the Eagles added a veteran safety if not the more sought-after ones mentioned above. Several middle-tier safeties, such as Kenny Phillips, Louis Delmas, LaRon Landry, and Chris Clemons, could be obtained for less.

Roseman said last offseason that the Eagles were confident in the starting tandem of Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman. But when the project that was Jaiquawn Jarrett had a poor spring, the GM added O.J. Atogwe in June.

Jarrett and Atogwe were eventually cut, and the fears of many were realized when neither Allen nor Coleman performed with any sort of consistency last season. Striking out on back-to-back second-round picks in Allen and Jarrett proved to be too much to overcome.

Many other teams have struggled evaluating college safeties, and the Eagles' recent history suggests that waiting until the draft may not be the best way to address the need. A regime change, however, could bring a different perspective.

But with Coleman likely out as a starter and the enigmatic Allen teetering close to the bench, the Eagles need ready-made safeties. And free agency has a plethora of them.

Goldson will probably be the first off the board. Some expected the 49ers to put the franchise tag on their all-pro safety. The Eagles have inside information on the 28-year-old after vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble left San Francisco last month.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Goldson is a thumper and could be the intimidator the Eagles have lacked in the secondary since Brian Dawkins left four year ago. He is not without his flaws - he missed as many tackles as Allen last season, according to Pro Football Focus - and will cost a lot.

Moore, 27, had his best season in 2012 and was voted into his first Pro Bowl. The Falcons used him in a variety of ways, often blitzing him from the slot. He also had four interceptions.

Quin was converted from cornerback to safety two seasons ago by the Texans. He has above-average cover skills and is underrated as a run-stopper. His age (27) and little wear and tear at safety could warrant an investment.

Phillips, Delmas, and Landry have battled through injuries in recent seasons. Phillips played in just six games for the New York Giants last season because of a medial collateral ligament strain in his knee. Delmas, too, has been hindered by knee problems over the last two seasons.

Landry was beset by an Achilles tendon injury in 2010-11, playing in only 15 games for the Redskins over that span. He settled for a one-year contract with the New York Jets last season but started 15 games. He spent a good deal of his time playing in the box.

Likely Hall of Famers Ed Reed and Charles Woodson will be available as well, but the rebuilding Eagles are unlikely to want short-term answers at safety.

Top Free-Agent Safeties

Here are some NFL free-agent safeties who might interest the Eagles:

Player   Team   Age   Ht.   Wt.   

Dashon Goldson   49ers   28   6-2   200   

William Moore   Falcons   27   6-0   221   

Glover Quin   Texans   27   6-0   207   

Kenny Phillips   Giants   26   6-2   217   

Ed Reed   Ravens   34   5-11   205   

LaRon Landry   Jets   28   6-0   220   

Louis Delmas   Lions   25   5-11   202   

Charles Woodson   Packers   36   6-1   202   

Chris Clemons   Dolphins   27   6-1   214   

Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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